We’ve all been there: after plunking down your hard-earned bucks on the latest and greatest team-boosting headwear, you slap the cap onto your head and look in the mirror and think, «Wow, I look like a geek in this.» It’s not because your head is inherently un-baseball-player-shaped! I know of exactly one person who looks good in an off-the-shelf baseball cap, and that’s frequent Cheer-Clubber and Box-poster Useless Tyler. Last time I saw him, his cap looked as new as the day it was stitched together, and just right on his head. For those of us who aren’t Useless Tyler, we need to break-in our caps so we don’t look like locomotive engineers. Breaking-in a cap is a loving process that takes years of wearing it day and night until it takes on the contours of your own head. Well, some of us don’t have years. Some of us want our hats to look good on our heads now, in time for the upcoming baseball season. I ran into this problem in May of last year, when my wife bought me a new home grey Jays cap for my birthday. I was going to break it in the old-fashioned way, by wearing it and wearing it some more, and bending the brim a bit into a nice, pleasant curve, but after enduring two weeks of «New hat, huh?» and «It’ll look better when it’s broken in» from the regular goons up in section 518, I decided I needed to do something about it a little faster. (By the way, the cap in question is a fitted New Era 5950, the «authentic» hat sold at the Rogers Centre Bullpen Store, and the same style of hat that most MLB teams wear on the field. If you’re buying a sized Jays hat, you’ll be buying one of these.) First thing I did was to try to work in the front panel, which sat up very high on my head. Well, nothing happened — the panel is designed to be stiff but flexible, and no matter how much I scrunched it or crumpled it, the panel just jumped back to the same shape it started at. I’ll admit I was a little irritated by this. So I turned to that amazing repository of all information, The Internet. Hey, if The Internet can give me instructions on how to build the Millennium Falcon out of Lego it can tell me anything! Almost anything. Google was not very helpful, turning up hundreds of blog pages of people complaining about how hard it was to break-in their baseball caps, but no solutions or instructions. I was despondent; I couldn’t take another inning of razzing from the guys in the cheap seats. In my desperation I wandered all over the New Era website, reading anything cap-related, and I learned all about how many different New York Yankees caps are sold by just this one company… And then finally, there it was, hidden in cleverly with the washing instructions. The 5950 cap is made of wool — if you wash it in warm water it will shrink, so you need to dry it on top of something similar to the size of your head, like an upside-down bowl or a basketball (you know who you are) or your actual head. If you dry it on your head, it will shrink precisely to the size and shape of your noggin… Well, that’s some mighty useful information! I immediately leaped up from my desk at work and rushed to the washroom to soak my cap in warm water. Then I clapped it onto my head and waited for the magic to happen. After about ten minutes of wet-cap discomfort, I began to suspect that I was the victim of a savage burn laid upon me by the webmaster of the New Era website. Unpleasantly lukewarm water was tricking down my back and into my eyes. I began to plot my revenge. But then, as the cap dried, a miracle happened: the cap began to shrink down to the dimensions of my head, pulling the stiffened front panel backwards so that it no longer stood so high up. And now, with some additional curving of the brim, I have a cap that’s very comfortably broken in. I highly recommend this method, despite the few hours of discomfort and the wet dog smell that will trail you until you have a shower, and not out of some perverse need to burn someone else as badly as I was burned. Vintage baseball player wearing a cap. Last year when I added an Art of Manliness ball cap to our shop, a bunch of guys said, “Hey! What’s with the flat-billed hat? Those aren’t manly!” At first these comments had me confused, since it wasn’t a flat-billed cap, but simply a traditional baseball hat that hadn’t been broken in yet. When I asked for clarification, I was admittedly flabbergasted. The guys who ragged on our hat admitted that they thought all ball caps either came with a flat bill or one that had already been curved. They had no idea that baseball hats could (and should!) be broken in, and that you could curve the bill yourself. It seems what was once essential man knowledge has been lost over time. So today I’d like to revive this classic bit of know-how, and offer a tutorial on how to break in a baseball hat.

How to Make a Fitted Baseball Hat Conform to Your Unique Cranium

To achieve a fitted ball cap that conforms to your unique cranium, you’ll first want to buy a hat that’s a bit bigger than your head. Wool and cotton shrink with heat and moisture, and your head will amply produce these elements while you wear your hat. So give your new ball cap a little wiggle room to shrink down to fit the contours of your splendid dome. If your hat is made out of polyester (like many of the newer ball caps are), then you don’t have to worry too much about it shrinking, though the tips below can still help create a better fit. Before you get started: remove any stickers. Such is the sad state of baseball capology that I even have to articulate this step. Just wear it. As just mentioned, heat and moisture are the key ingredients in getting a ball cap to sit properly on your head, so just wear it all the time and let nature do its work. Over time, the hat will gradually conform to your brain canister. If you’re impatient, there are a couple things you can do to speed the process along: Pouring the hot water into baseball cap. Soak the crown of the ball cap in hot water and then wear it until it dries. This only works on wool or cotton hats. It won’t do anything for the polyester variety. Make sure to let the hat cool off a bit before you put it on. Take a hot shower in your ball cap and wear it until it dries. In lieu of the hot water soak, I’ve known guys to wear their baseball hat in a hot shower (heat and moisture!) and then just keep on wearing it until it dries. The only drawback to this method is that getting the bill wet may damage it, making it harder to curve (see below).

How to Make a Fitted Baseball Hat That’s Too Small Fit Your Giant Noggin

If you get a fitted baseball hat as a gift, but it happens to be a bit too small for your giant noggin, there’s still a chance you can make that hat fit comfortably. This happened to me a few years ago. Kate got me a vintage Tulsa Oilers baseball hat from Ebbets Field Flannels for my birthday, but it was about a half size too small. They were of out of stock in a larger size, so I took to the internet to figure out ways to stretch a fitted hat and make it a tad bigger. Here’s what worked for me: Your hat can’t be too small for your head. The techniques below won’t work if your hat is an entire size too small. I think at most, you can get away with stretching a hat that’s half a size shy of fitting. Man showing a vertical cuts in baseball cap. If your hat is too small, make two vertical cuts in the sweatband. Make sure to not make the cut all the way through. Strategically cut parts of the sweatband. Make two cuts in the sweatband near the back of the hat. That should loosen things up a bit. Make sure not to cut the hat itself. You could do that if you wanted to loosen things up even more – but it just doesn’t look purty. Man folding a cap on legs. Simultaneously (and slowly) pull the bill with your hands and push out with your knee until you hear a loud “POP!” That “pop” is the sound of stitching coming apart in your hat. Stretch the hat until you hear a “pop.” If making two cuts in the sweatband doesn’t work, this technique will. Place your hat on your knee with the bill facing you. Grab the bill with both hands. Simultaneously (and slowly) pull the bill with your hands and push out with your knee until you hear a loud “POP!” That “pop” is the sound of stitching coming apart in your hat. Make sure to do this slowly and in a controlled manner. If you yank too hard too fast, you could rip the bill off of the hat. As soon as you hear that popping sound, stop stretching. Undoing that bit of stitching really adds some room in your hat. After I did this with my Oilers cap, it fit like a glove. Don’t worry, your hat won’t fall apart. Mine is still going strong three years after I popped it.

No Flat Bills: How to Shape a Baseball Cap Bill

I know the whippersnappers out there like to keep the bills of their hats flat, but trends be damned. Perhaps I’m just a fist-shaking curmudgeon stuck in my ways, but I’ve always thought the flat bill thing looked goofy. It has a tendency to make the crown appear bigger, which consequently makes the wearer look like a boy sporting his dad’s ball cap. Baseball hats are already an accessory associated with the younger set; wedded to a flat bill, they make a guy look about twelve. Which I guess is okay if you’re actually 12, but after that you should wear a cap like a grown man – bill curved. So as a public service to you youngsters and an exercise in nostalgia for us old-timers, below I show you various ways to create the perfect curve in the bill of your ball cap: Man showing a folded shape of baseball cap. Shape it with your hands. The simplest way to do it. There’s definitely a “feel” you have to have to get the perfect curve. It’s almost like shaping clay. Getting your bill to stay in its curved position will require frequent manipulation for a few days.  Babe Ruth looking nice in ed sox fabric. While a symmetrical curve looks nice, some of the pros have always ignored this rule in favor of rocking an off-kilter bill that’s all their own. There are a few risks with the hands-on method. One is that instead of giving the bill a nice gentle curve, you create a sharp bend; you want a kind of upside-down “U” rather than an upside-down “V” shape. You also want to make sure the curve is symmetrical — that the trough of the “U” sits right in the middle of the bill. A baseball cap turned into in coffee mug. Shameless self-promotion: Hat and mug available in the AoM Store. Stick the bill in a coffee mug overnight. No hassle and leaves a long-lasting, well-formed curve in your bill. This is my preferred method. Placed the tin can in baseball cap. Wrap the bill around a softball or soup can. Just bend the bill around a softball or soup can and secure it in place with a rubber band. Leave overnight. This method lends the bill a subtle curve. Folding a baseball cap. Curve the bill, fold it back into the hat, and leave overnight. Curve your bill and then fold it back into the hat so that it stays in place. Leave overnight. This is an okay method, but in my experience, the bill doesn’t stay curved all that well while it’s tucked into the back of your hat, so you don’t end up with much of a bend. How do you break in your baseball hats? Share your methods with us in the comments! Previous Next We all have different head shapes and face proportions, we think we look good in only certain cap styles (or sometimes none at all!) and it seems every guy at some point in his life has tried to get that “just right” look in pulling off a cap, in one way or another. Here we’ve collected some simple and effective tips to get that perfect fit, comfort and look in whatever style you’ve chosen!

Just wear it.

After you’ve decided whether or not to remove any bill stickers first, of course. And nope, we’re not wading into that debate! Heat and moisture are key in getting a ball cap to sit properly on your head, so just wear it all the time and let nature do its work. Over time, the hat will gradually conform to your head. But if you’re reading this you’re probably looking for more of a shortcut!

If you’re impatient, you can break in a baseball cap quickly!

Trying one or both of the following tips to break in a baseball cap can give you that perfect “Yeah bro, I’m a cap guy” look even if you bought it last week… 1. Spraying warm water onto the baseball cap or hat, making sure to soak the crown of the ball cap in hot water and then wear it until it dries. Spraying is better than pouring, in case too much water causes color to bleed onto any embroidery. This only works on wool or cotton hats. It won’t do as much for the polyester variety. Make sure to let the hat cool off a bit before you put it on. 2. Killing two birds with one stone: take a quick warm shower in your ball cap, then wear it until it dries. Doing this a few times may be more effective in getting the cap to finally conform to your head shape. Just be sure that your cap completely dries before taking it off!

How to Shape a Baseball Cap Bill

Some styles, like our 3D Wool Blend Snapback Cap look great on their own with a flat bill. If you like the sporty, rugged look of an athletic cap, like our Versatile Flexfit Twill Cap, or our super laid-back Paw Print Retro Trucker Caps then shaping is a must and an art form practiced since baseball caps were ever worn by a dude! Try these tips to get a solid curve in your bill, then adjust in the mirror to your liking: 1. Shape it with your hands. The simplest way to do it. Getting your bill to stay in its curved position will require frequent adjustment for a few days. But be careful to make sure you’re adjusting in a symmetrical way by checking the mirror now and then (like you need an excuse right?). Give the bill a nice gentle curve, you don’t want to create a sharp bend; you want an upside-down “U” rather than an upside-down “V” shape. 2. Break in baseball cap in a coffee mug! Stick the bill in a coffee mug overnight, maybe up to a few nights or for infrequent touch-ups. No hassle and leaves a long-lasting, well-formed curve in your bill (no rubber bands or marks needed with this process. This is my favorite method, and we even provide the perfect WOOF Coffee Mug for an authentic WOOFABLE curve (and shameless product placement).?

How do you break in your baseball hats? Share your own tips with other WOOFers in the comments!

Check out our new caps!

Jerry is the Designer & Founder at Commando Corporation, an online clothing retailer providing men with the most comfortable athletic and casual clothing in the world. It is born from the idea that clothing should fit right, be comfortable as hell, and make a guy feel more sexy and confident than ever. Billion Creation is more than just a streetwear shop. We’re a cultural purveyor; born, bred, and built on the sun-drenched sands of San Diego, California. As such, we’ve got our fingers on the pulse of the West Coast community. The dreamers, the designers, and the denizens who keep their eyes to the sky. That’s why we’ve got a pretty good understanding of the ideal headwear setup – most notably, New Era caps. Throughout the years, we’ve worked hard to become a mainstay within the San Diego hat scene, providing our audience with an array of unique (and exclusive) caps from sports leagues like the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. From there, we decided to expand into the realm of streetwear, adopting a handful of the genre’s most respected designers and brands into our ranks. From iconic skate companies like Vans, DGK, and Primitive, all the way to more acclaimed apparel companies (a la HUF, Brixton, Volcom, and Dickies), we’ve got it all. However, our love for hats perseveres. That’s why we’ve decided to jot down a few of the best ways to break in your New Era cap – or any cap for that matter. Below, we’ll run through some of the most highly-referenced hat shaping tactics, while giving you some additional advice to make your new cap “all your own.” So, without further adieu, let’s clear up some of the confusion.

Cap Too Big? Too Small? We’ve Got You.

One of the most prominent issues you’ll run into when buying a new cap is whether or not the break-in process will work in your favor. The truth is, most people don’t even know where to begin when it comes to buying a hat that will conform to their head in the long run, making things even more difficult. Picking up the perfect headwear piece is kind of like building a house. First, you need to lay the correct foundation. From there, you can iterate to create your preferential space; whether that’s through the addition of personalized design, a tasteful addition, or something more intricate. Now, let’s apply that to a New Era cap. First, you want to make sure that you’re buying a cap that’s the correct size for your head. In other words, you want to “lay your foundation.” We’re going to be real with you, when you first try on a cap, things shouldn’t feel all that comfortable. You may feel a tightness at the front of the crown (where the sweatband meets/sits on your forehead). This is due to the current dimensions of New Era’s 59Fifty fitted line. In the past, these caps were crafted differently. They once featured a more relaxed crown (especially in terms of the foremost panels of the hat), alongside a more relaxed brim layout, allowing them to form to your head more naturally. These days, however, the brand has enhanced the logo area of their caps, making them more rigid in the process. This, paired with the increasingly-flat brims that adorn 59Fifty and 9Fifty snapback variants, has made the “try on” process a bit more unintuitive than it was in the past.

Here are the things you should look for:

Courtesy of Unsplash. Worried whether or not the cap will fit correctly after you bend the brim? Is it putting unwarranted pressure on your head? Check to see if you fit a finger between the space where your temples and the cap’s fabric meet. If the answer is yes, it’s likely that the cap is too large. Conversely, if there’s no space between your temples and the cap’s fabric, you may want to move up a size. Of course, there’s always the chance that you could be one of the many individuals stuck between two of New Era’s most prominent sizes. If you find yourself in this (not so uncommon) predicament, there are ways to ensure that you can create the correct fit. We’ll touch on these tactics later on in our guide. For now, you’ll want to go for a cap that’s a happy medium between the two aforementioned traits. Ensure that you’re not able to easily fit a finger between your temple and the cap’s fabric, while still shying away from a size that feels like it’s cutting off the circulation to your scalp. This way, you’ll be able to take advantage of stretching/shrinking.

Found Your Fit? Let’s Perfect It.

When it comes to “breaking in” a cap, everyone has their idea of what comfort should be. In order to avoid any future litigation and admonish ourselves of any and all responsibility, we’re going to drop some knowledge. Write this down. Our definition of “comfort” might be different from yours. It might be different from your friend’s, your mother’s, or your brother’s. As always, there is no such thing as “perfect.” The break-in methods that we will reference below were sourced from respected individuals within the cap community, and feature information that was researched, referenced, and recommended by those individuals. These recommendations come from a place of experience. At the end of the day, it’s your choice whether or not you’d like to move forward with any proposed method.

To Bend, Or Not To Bend?

There’s an ongoing debate within the cap community regarding the “do’s” and “don’ts” of contemporary hat personalization. Personally, we think it’s all a load of s#%t. Whether you’re an impressionable individual, or you pay no mind to the murmurs of the masses, you might look to us to give you the down-low on what’s “in.” You’re not going to find that type of advice here. Instead, we think that both camps are entitled to their opinion. However, since virtually every fitted (and snapback) cap arrives from the New Era factory with a semi-flat brim, we’re going to break down some of the best ways to bend your bill, should you feel the need. If you read our above sections, you might recall that we said something along the lines of “build your own foundation.” If you skipped ahead, this was an analogy that we’d introduced to reference the importance of correct sizing. If you’ve acquired a cap that isn’t too big, or too small, this is the section where we’ll elaborate upon that. From this point on, we’ll assume that your cap is the perfect middle ground. Because you’ve laid a great foundation for the fitment of your hat, you’ll be able to bend its brim without much worry. Traditionally, this will loosen the cap a bit, as the flat bill keeps the fabric of the cap (near your temple area) taut. Once you create an arch in the brim, this fabric relaxes, allowing the cap to take on a more subdued shape. There are a handful of ways to curve the brim of your cap, but we’re going to reference two of the industry’s most tried and true methods. Break-In-New-Era-Cap-Gif-2

The Mug Method

It might sound weird, but mugs (as in, coffee cups) are actually one of the most preferable ways to add a perfect curve to your cap’s brim. It’s as easy as it sounds. Find a coffee mug or cup with a vertical interior, bend your hat’s bill enough for it to sit comfortably inside, and leave it overnight. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have a perfectly-centered (and long-lasting) curve that’ll make less-versed cap aficionados jealous. Now, let’s move on to a method that’s a bit more involved. Break-In-New-Era-Cap-Gif-3

The Jar/Can Method

If you’ve been around hats for a decade or more, this method will bring back some memories. One of the most popular ways to bend a brim — utilizing a can of soup, or a cylindrical jar — has been recorded and archived since the beginning of cap-kind. For this method, you’ll need a perfectly round can or jar, as stated above. You’ll also want a good number of rubber bands, as these will help you to keep the hat’s brim in place without malformation. First, you’ll want to place the can/jar in the middle of the cap’s brim. From here, pinch the corners of the hat’s brim inward until they’ve formed a symmetrical arch. Now, grab your rubber bands and place them over the brim of the cap (and around the can). This way, you can let the cap sit overnight, allowing it to adopt its newfound curve without any additional tampering. Now that we’ve solved the mystery of at-home cap curvature, let’s find out how to create the perfect fit.

Shrinking Or Expanding? It’s All The Same.

A lot of shrinking/expanding guides on the internet like to make things more complex than they need to be. To keep things short and simple, we’ll break it down for the layman. All you need is warm/hot water. “Wait, are you serious? That’s ALL it takes to stretch/shrink a cap?” That’s right. It doesn’t really matter how you acquire it or apply it – hot water is your friend in this situation. For many, the easiest way to break in their cap can actually be found within the home. Who knew? The truth is, your perfect cap conformer is only steps away. Grab your cap, head to the bathroom, and hop into the shower. You heard us right. Take a shower with your brand-new New Era cap, and make sure that the water temperature is moderately warm. To once again avoid any future litigation and admonish ourselves of any and all responsibility, DO NOT use any type of detergent, soap, or shampoo on your hat. In fact, don’t use any products at all while in the shower. Also, ensure that the brim of your cap is NOT comprised of cardboard. After all is said and done, remember: this is solely a warm-up for the fabrics of your cap. If your hat is cotton or wool, the application of warm water and steam will cause the fabric of the hat to relax, making it more malleable. Once you’ve given it a good soak, allow the cap to dry while it remains on your head. You’ll want to keep the cap on until it’s completely dry, as this is the only way that the fabrics will maintain a specific shape/structure. Break-In-New-Era-Cap-Gif-1

Feeling a little less adventurous?

Luckily, there’s another way to conform a cap to your head without standing around in the shower. Wet the internal sweatband of the cap with a generous helping of warm water from your sink. If you need to shrink the hat down to size, hit the dampened sweatband with a few blasts of warm air from any drug-store hairdryer. You might have to repeat this a few times to get the desired fit. If you go too far, or if you want to stretch the cap (instead of shrinking it), you’ll take a page from our method mentioned above. Dampen the internal sweatband with some warm water and throw the cap on your head. It might seem a little tight at first, but power through the discomfort. Once the hat dries, you’ll find that the fabrics have relaxed/become more malleable. And there you have it – everything you need to know to create the perfect-fitting headwear piece. Remember, if you’re ever in a bind, we’re here to help! If you have any questions, concerns, or qualms when it comes to hat sizing, upkeep, or cleaning, we carry a wide range of accessories (and knowledge, to match).

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